Tuesday night I took the Amtrak train from downtown LA to San Diego to attend a big technology and visual effects conference (SIGGRAPH) the next morning. My client was exhibiting and I had booked them five media appointments that I needed to staff. As a result, even I appeared on a SIGGRAPH blog along with my client, check out the fourth photo down on this post at Thinking Animation Blog.
Anyway I digress, I was excited by the chance to get out of the office and glad I wasn't driving there. Budget was limited so I selected the cheapest hotel on the conference list, 500 West, which was only $59 a night. The catch though is that it is "European style" as the website uses to describe the shared bathrooms. The hotel site though looked artsy and charming, it also claimed a cafe and free wireless internet, so I was down.
Turns out it was a former YMCA and originally housed the U.S. Armed Services, so despite the cute entrance way and awnings, the cement block rooms felt like a drug rehab center and the song Hotel California drifted into my mind, but oddly enough not YMCA.
When I exited the elevator at 11:00 that night, I felt transported back to my undergrad. I expected a Frisbee to go flying over my head and one of my friends exiting their room talking passionately into their phones. The only thing missing was flyers on the walls and name tags on the doors.
When I entered my room, it looked like an army barrack with two cot-like twin beds, a simple bureau and desk all crowded in the same place. Nothing was on the walls, just hospital beige everywhere, not even a cheesy motel painting up. The lack of color gave the place the feeling of sleeping in your door room for the first night of the new school year or the last day when all your stuff is in boxes and you're waiting for your parents to come pick you up in the morning. It barely resembled the photos on their site (see below). I didn't even have comforters on the bed, not that I needed one though. To be fair though it did have a new age hanging light fixture--white too.
The room was also stuffy and there were no fans or AC and I couldn't open the heavy school-like window more than a few inches. So in order to stay cool I decided to brave the communal bathrooms to take a cold shower, despite the late hour. I had coed bathrooms (toilets and showers) in college so I wasn't intimidated by shared floor bathrooms, and unlike my college at least these were private once you shut the door. Just as I was about to enter the bathroom though, a younger man exited in nothing but a towel. He laughed when he saw me and as he walked by me he said with a smile "nice shirt" (it was pink and gold and tied in a bow at the back), I smiled back, "yours too." He looked down at his bare chest and chuckled. He began to say more with a wicked grin on his face and because I knew it was going to be crossing the line, I quickly entered the bathroom and locked the door.
All in all it wasn't bad tho, just not the most luxurious place. It was more like the hostels that I stayed at abroad, but instead of being in Ireland or Italy, I was in San Diego. If money is sparse though this is a good alternative and I'm sure it wouldn't have felt as creepy if I was with a friend.
As for the conference, it was held at the convention center and was HUGE. Note: if you ever need a confidence boost, just wear a black dress at a practically all male tech show. The event though meant a lot of standing and walking, which was a bit tiring due to my recovering and all, but not bad. I got a cool Google shirt and some trade magazines that I'll be researching for work. Plus, the interviews all went well. So, alls well that ends well.